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Ballet Talk for Dancers

What to do when you begin to question your dancing?


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I'm a 17yo dance student, and I don't know whether this question fits into this forum, but it seems like a good place to ask.


When is being weak in class too much to overcome? I'm not talking about improper or incorrect technique. I guess I'm talking about things that some might consider more in the "tricks" category.


I've been told that I've got "potential" (i.e. body type). I've been accepted into selective summer programs, some on scholarship, for the past several years and was accepted for winter programs at two selective schools. I'll be attending a program at a school of a major company next year.


I've had clean training, but I'm missing a lot of the strength that I see in summer program peers (esp. CPYB students and students from schools of major companies). By strength, I mean I lack, for example, consistent clean multiple attitude and a la seconde turns etc.- and these peers' overall strength and consistency in general. I feel that if I had attended a bigger school in the past (hindsight always being 20/20), I would be at a comparable level to them now.


Can I expect to gain that type of strength at this point? Or is it too late now to play "catch up"? (I'll work my hardest this year either way :) I just want to have a realistic view of what's possible)

Edited by tutu
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tutu-I moved your post here. You had placed it on the Parent's forum. I think it will be better served on this forum so our teachers and other dancers in your age group can answer you.

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Tutu, you've come to one of the many "crunch" times in a dancer's career. Now that you're 17, you mostly stop having "potential" and have to start delivering the real article. pirouettes in open positions are very difficult, and always need work, even after you're in an entry-level professional job. Keep working hard, make sure that you're getting the BEST training available to you and press on!

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Tutu, you said you have had clean training, but have you had intensive enough training during the school years? Do you think that the problem is due to a lack of enough training? You said next year you are going to a major school, but what about this year? At 17 you really need to be dancing several hours every day, 6 days a week. Those hours should include a minimum of an hour and a half technique class, followed by pointe work.


If your home training is less than that, it could be the reason for what you feel is a lack of strength. (And don't forget that CPYB students take many more hours per week than dancers anywhere else. Their schedule is beyond all of the major professional school programs that I know of.) If the lack of intensity is the reason, then it is time to take care of that this year, not next year. Yes, if the potential for strength, as well as having a good facility, is there, then the strength can still be gained, but it will take longer. Tell us more about your home training, please.

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Tutu, your question is a very personal and a good one, yet difficult to answer you personally. Generally speaking, it will take a very knowledgable teacher, a very hardwork, talented dancer and a training schedule that is structured to solidify your technical and strength abilities in this next year.


Different schools of ballet have different markers for technical and physical development. In the Vaganova school students of the age group of 17 do begin to be attempt double turns in big poses (attitude, arabesque, a la seconde) on demi pointe and on pointe and by 18 they are accomplishing this technical aspect of ballet. It sounds like you are right on track if you are 17 now. The question is, is your class level and teacher ready to push to this level?


Also remember, to a student watching other students turn like tops, it may all look magnificent. Teachers look at different things. Teachers look to see if developing students are paying attention to corrections and applying them. Not just thinking about them, but actually working to accomplish them. This might include asking questions when things are not understood or are not achieving the results.


Once you have established you are in a training program to attain your goals, work relentlessly to achieve. Take down every barrier. Stay focused. Do not make excuses for yourself or your lack of achievement. Go for it!

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